• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 48s

Two-foot high kick takes Arctic Winter Games to new heights

By Heather Hintze 9:16 PM March 18, 2014

The sport has deep cultural roots in Alaska's whaling industry.

FAIRBANKS - The concept is simple: Kick the suspended ball with both feet and then land on both feet.

The competitors make it look much easier than it is though.

“It’s a whole other level of difficulty,” said Nick Hanson, a member of Team Alaska from Unalakleet. “You’re not just putting a ball through a hoop every single time. It’s such a small target and it’s so high up there. You’ve got to really focus on being accurate and being explosive enough to get as high as you can get.”

Some of the men can reach up to eight feet. So what does it take to jump that high?

“A lot of confidence,” laughed Casey Ferguson from Team Alaska. “It takes a lot of skill, a lot of practice, repetition, stretching.”

In addition to the stiff competition, the athletes say they also appreciate the cultural significance of the sport.

“Hunters would do the two-foot high kick to signal a bowhead whale was caught. The two feet going up in the air would represent the fluke of the bowhead whale,” Ferguson explained.

“My family is from Barrow and the two-foot high kick did represent the bowhead whale being caught. They would do the two-foot high kick and say, ‘OK, we need people to come help bring the whale in’ or ‘we need people to get the village ready because we’re bringing in a whale,’” Hanson said. “I like that cultural aspect of it.”

For Alaskan athletes, these games are a chance to learn more about their history and pass along the traditions of their ancestors.

“For youth, if they have something they’re proud of they’re going to work a lot harder, they’re going to stay out of trouble. They’re going to push themselves for a better future,” said Erica Meckel from Fairbanks.

“It makes it that much more important for us. I come from Chevak where my culture is still pretty strong and because of that, it’s important to me,” Ferguson said.

Participating in the games is one way to keep the cultural traditions going for generations to come.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Summer school students get their diplomas in special graduation ceremony

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 22:52

    Eighteen Anchorage students received their high school diplomas Tuesday at a ceremony at East High School. The group of teens from eight local high schools was part of the summer school program, which allowed them to complete their graduation requirements. One of the graduates, Bartlett High School’s Isaiah Alston, said it was a relief to […]

  • News

    M/V Susitna ready for sale to the Philippine Red Cross

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 21:23

    The Matanuska-Susitna Borough got good news Tuesday about its ferry, which never transported any passengers and is in the process of being sold. Crews in Seattle have been working to repair the M/V Susitna‘s four water damaged engines. On June 23, the boat passed sea trials with representatives from the Philippine Red Cross and Mat-Su […]

  • Lifestyle

    FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

    by Associated Press on Jun 28, 20:41

    Federal health officials on Tuesday approved the first pill to treat all major forms of hepatitis C, the latest in a series of drug approvals that have reshaped treatment of the liver-destroying virus. The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination pill, Epclusa, from Gilead Sciences, for patients with and without liver damage. The new drug’s […]

  • News

    Young gardeners grow food for children in need

    by Shannon Ballard on Jun 28, 20:12

    Some Anchorage kids are exploring nature, playing in the dirt and growing a passion for helping those less fortunate than themselves. Education specialist Patrick Ryan said most children would love gardening if simply given the chance. He teaches the Junior Master Gardener day camp each summer at the Alaska Botanical Garden. “I just want them to […]

  • News

    JBER Fisher House expanding to meet the needs of military patients and families

    by Bonney Bowman on Jun 28, 19:59

    The Fisher House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers veterans, service members and their families a free place to stay if they have to travel to Anchorage for medical treatment. The house opened four years ago, but need has been so high, the organization is now planning to expand. House manager Jenny Hall said they can […]

  • Crime

    Driver charged with murder, kidnapping following Monday night crash in East Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 17:00

    Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 The Anchorage Police Department says a driver involved in a collision late Monday night is facing charges of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, among others. At 11:40 p.m., police responded to the scene of a crash on the 2800 block of Debarr Road. A Subaru, driven […]

  • News

    Governor appoints Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska attorney general

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 16:30

    Gov. Bill Walker named Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska’s next attorney general Tuesday. She will take over for Craig Richards, who resigned June 23. “I am pleased to welcome Jahna Lindemuth as a member of my cabinet and the new leader of the Alaska Department of Law,” Walker said in a statement. “Jahna was one of […]

  • News

    Alaska to receive $2.5 million from emissions-cheating settlement against Volkswagen

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 15:30

    More than 1,200 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with emission test-cheating technology have been sold in the state of Alaska, prompting the state’s Department of Law to join more than 30 other states in a settlement against the company. The settlement requires Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million to the participating states for the marketing and […]